The Third Step: Entering the workforce

 Students participate in one of the several career fairs hosted at UConn each year. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Students participate in one of the several career fairs hosted at UConn each year. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Post-graduate students now face the task of becoming employees in the corporate world. They enter the “real world,” in which they must pay taxes, work for themselves and navigate a professional environment.

This article will focus on post-graduates from the University of Connecticut and how they are currently doing in the workplace.

This concludes the three-part “Students entering the workforce” series, in which the previous articles explained skill development and major choice.

After getting their bachelor’s degree, some UConn graduates headed straight into the corporate world.

Heather Knorr, who graduated from UConn in May 2017 with a degree in environmental engineering, now works as an engineer at an environmental consulting firm.

“I had two internships while I attended UConn,” Knorr said. “One of those internships was for the company that I am currently employed with.”

She said her work environment differs from others because it is outside rather than an office setting.

She explained her transition from student to employee and what she learned from it.

“It’s nice that after your work day is over and you’ve put your hours in that you can go home or wherever and relax and not study and do homework,” Knorr said. “The drawback is that you are not immediately surrounded by a ton of your good friends—we’re all scattered around the country now.”

She said she moved in with one of her best friends from UConn, so finding someone to live with was easy.

Her advice to graduating seniors about to enter the workforce?

“Your first job may not be your permanent dream job,” she said. “Don’t be discouraged, you will be one step closer to having the job you really want.”

Scott Seigle graduated UConn in 2017. Seigle majored in healthcare management and now works as a healthcare technology consultant.

Like Knorr, he gave advice to graduating seniors worried about their job prospects.

“People are worried that they might not have a job that makes a lot of money or a job that is super flashy—this is where patience comes into play,” Seigle said. “You just showed yourself that you can commit four years to complete a goal and had a great time (hopefully) doing so.”

Seigle said he got help from the Career Center to learn networking and interview techniques before getting hired. He said he joined student organizations and had a great resume.

Seigle said he learned that the corporate world takes strategic planning and hard work.

“You have to learn to solve problems on your own,” Seigle said. “When someone pays you, they expect you to add value.”

He advises that when they enter the workplace, graduating seniors should try to talk to everyone—including the custodians.

“Positive interaction is better than no interaction,” Seigle said.

Seigle said his transition into the workplace was different because he commutes to work from home.

William Richardson Jr. graduated May 2016 and double majored in journalism and Africana studies.

Richardson currently works as a news producer for WJTV News in Jackson, Mississippi.

He said he got his job not through internships, but by networking with the National Association of Black Journalists and that he was “diligent in sending applications.”

He described the workplace in a more blunt way than other post-graduates.

“The corporate environment is ruthless,” Richardson said. “Employers do not care about you as a person. They do not care more than they need to in order to make a dollar and make a profit.”

His employment tips for graduating seniors?

“Become close with your boss or bosses. In case things go south, you need to always have an authority figure you can trust when things get saucy,” he said.

He said transitioning to the corporate world has more to do with growing up than the actual work environment.

He said he could manage moving to a new place and living on his own, but it was difficult in the beginning starting his new job.

“I had real bad depression my first month employed,” Richardson said. “But I had to muscle through because I didn’t have a choice.”

He said that eventually going to work in Mississippi got better and that he can “finally be independent.”

Holden Powell graduated in May 2017 and currently works part-time in clothing retail while writing freelance. Powell was a journalism and communications double major.

He said he wants to work in the fashion and entertainment field.

“I’ve interned as a fashion journalist for the online publication CollegeFashionista where I would capture photos of students’ styles and blog about it,” Powell said.

He said he would get better job prospects in New York and Los Angeles, and moving there would require strategic planning. He said that he’s working to save money and eventually make that move.

He said that graduating seniors need to learn to be more accountable for their work shifts when working in the real world.

“There’s rules to it. You will be fired and while it can sort of feel like a shrug ‘it’s only a part-time job; I can get a new one’ you have to understand that you aren’t in the comforts and sphere of university life anymore,” Powell said.

He said that he had difficulty adjusting to life after school at first but then took the time to reevaluate his options. He said he had previous jobs before his part-time job, such as a “door-to-door salesman.”

 “It’s all a matter of getting your feet wet and figuring out what works for you, what you like, don’t like and what you’re willing to compensate yourself for,” Powell said.

These post-graduate students all have different paths towards their goals and careers. Some are in the beginning stage of their careers, others are already ahead.

They all advised seniors the blunt reality of the corporate world and how they can navigate it. Yet, one message still stands: It won’t always be easy, but continue to strive for the career you want and keep a positive mind with supportive people around you.  


Tama Moni-Erigbali is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tamabiere.moni-erigbali@uconn.edu.